The Wages of Isolationism

Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting to return to the blogosphere now. I was waiting to see the fate of the Ukraine-Israel-border deal. In fact, I’m still waiting to see what happens there. It will show us the boundaries of the Kremlin takeover of the Republican Party.

In the meantime, events intervene (WaP0).

A militant drone attack killed three U.S. service members and injured at least 34 in Jordan on Sunday, officials said, marking the first deadly military action against American troops since the war in Gaza triggered a steep rise in violence across the Middle East.

President Biden blamed the assault on groups supported by Iran, generating immediate questions about when, where and how forcefully the United States might respond.

The president has not yet responded as I am writing this, so this post will not measure that effort. I’m looking to the errors of the past (same link).

As the tally of attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria has surged to more than 160 since October, the Pentagon has carried out retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxies there. But to the frustration of many in Washington, those actions, along with a parallel campaign of strikes on Iranian-linked rebels in Yemen, have failed to end the violence, and the president’s critics used the incident Sunday to ramp up their demands for more aggressive countermeasures.

Truth be told, said “critics” would have been on much firmer ground had they been just as angry about Donald Trump’s largely hands-off policy on Syria. Trump famously had no concern about Syria, save for its oil. By contrast (Telegraph)…

The US has attacked (Iranian military elite) IRGC positions in Syria – where they operate as advisers and trainers to Bashar al-Assad’s military and support a number of anti-American militias – three times since Oct 7. On Nov 8, US air force jets bombed a weapons depot and four days later they struck a training facility and safe house.

For all of that, it is in no way enough.

We have now seen three Administrations pretend that Bashar Assad’s regime can be a part of the international order in good standing. Never mind how brutally it treats its own people. Never mind its reliance on America’s enemies. Never mind its repeated willingness to let ISIS run rampant.

A democratic Syria would be free of Hezbollah and all “anti-American militias.” A Syrian rebellion supported by the West from the start would never have allowed ISIS to enter the political and geographical vacuum as it did in 2014. One can only imagine how much safer the region would be.

Instead, over the last dozen years, the cost of this isolationism has spread around the world: a migrant crisis in Europe, Russia and Iran ascendant in the region, a cocky Kremlin looking to get its meat hooks in Ukraine, the brazen (and largely successful) attempt to turn the GOP into an arm of the United Russia Party …

… and now, three Americans dead.

Barring the very unforeseen in the Republican primary, this won’t be an issue in the fall campaign. Neither Trump nor Biden have shown (to date) the willingness to move the Assad regime to the ash heap of history. So the cost will continue to rise.

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